Valley group remembers forgotten Vietnam War hero - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Valley group remembers forgotten Vietnam War hero

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

Sunday marked 45 years since Private First Class Oscar Austin was killed in action while fighting in Vietnam, he died saving the life of a fellow Marine.

Austin grew up and was raised in Phoenix but most people have never heard of this forgotten hero. A local group wants to change that, they held a ceremony today to remember the Marine.

"His unit came under attack by the Viet-Cong he without hesitation left the safety of his position and went across the battlefield to secure the safety of one of his fellow Marines," said Danny White.

White, who is part of the Oscar Austin recognition committee added, "he put himself between a grenade and his fallen friend there was rapid bullet fire of course he sustained several injuries as well but he secured the safety of Gordon Banks, Mr. Banks is alive today".

Austin was just 21 years old when he was killed. After his death, he was awarded the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart.

In 1997, the U.S. Navy named a destroyer after him the U.S.S. Oscar Austin. But the hero is relatively unknown in the town where he grew up.  Austin went to Booker T. Washington Elementary School, and graduated from Phoenix Union High School in 1967.  He enlisted in the marines a year later.

"This hero deserves the recognition that the Navy and Marine Corps gave him in Arizona," said Charles Jackson.

About a dozen people honored Austin at a memorial service Sunday. Only a few people in the crowd actually knew him, the rest paid their respects to a hero laid to rest in Phoenix whose name, they believe, should be recognized in our community.

Organizers of the Oscar Austin recognition committee plan to make this memorial ceremony an annual tradition. They are also trying to get a monument built, in Austin's honor.

RELATED LINKS:
Marine Corps - Medal of Honor Recipients

USS Oscar Austin fact sheet

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